Once again badminton will be served to the Scottish public as the Scottish National Badminton Championships take place on 5-7 February at the Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth.
The tournament will showcase the best in Scottish talents such as Kirsty Gilmour, Julie Macpherson and Ben Torrance to name but a few in singles, doubles and mixed variants.
If you needed any excuse to go and watch the action, Kirsty Gilmour is lighting the sport up in blue and white, already having climbed to 20th in the world rankings by November and now being 18th in the world at the time of writing.
Just last month Gilmour improved her impressive records by reaching the final of the Malaysian Masters Grand Prix, finishing as runner-up, her third runners-up spot in four tournaments.
It is a promising time for the sport in Scotland, having hosted the Scottish Open Grand Prix in November with much aplomb when Gilmour made another of those three finals and ended on the losing side.
The country is even set to host the World Championships in 2017 for the first time in twenty years since first hosting the event at the Scotstoun Centre in 1997, with both recent events using the Emirates Arena as its venue. Scotland will be looking towards such players to attempt to advance Scotland’s record of having two medals at the event since its inception in 1977.
Gilmour will be the one to beat in the women’s side of the draw having won the competition for the last four years, not losing a match in the competition since the 2011 draw. Kieran Merrilees is defending his honour as the reigning men’s champion having won the last two competitions.
In the men’s doubles, Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh are defending their crown, while the women’s doubles reigning champions are Gilmour and Imogen Bankier.
Much attention will be on Bankier after having taken a break and then recently retired from the game to focus on some personal goals, but is still taking part in this event as a probable swansong.
People may wonder whether after this break whether she will be fresh and ready to go, or whether she might be a bit rusty after her recent decision, as she will want to go out on a high. The mixed doubles’ competitors will be one group looking to defeat the reigning champions Robert Blair and Bankier and ruin the occasion.
However, despite the stature of these champions, there was a mass of Scottish talent on show at the Grand Prix recently, and there is plenty of good competition facing off against each other in the tournament.
With these events taking place and Scotland succeeding in recent times, it may be question whether that makes Gilmour one of the out-and-out favourites, or whether a succession of finals have taken its toll.
However, the same questions may be also be put to Scotland’s number one men’s singles player Merrilees, with rivals potentially seeking a weakness having had hand surgery at the end of last year and having not succeeded as he may have wanted in November’s Grand Prix.
Such competition as Torrance, Matthew Carder and Gordon Thomson, who all reached the semi-finals last year, will be circling around the reigning champion to attempt to steal the crown.
What is known is that whatever happens, it will be an interesting competition to see who will prevail over the three days.